The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced the first flu-related death of the 2017-2018 influenza season, an elderly (81 years of age and older) Central Iowa man, who died in October. Influenza activity in Iowa has been low so far this season, but IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, says this death is an indication that flu can be a serious illness. "This death is an unfortunate reminder the flu virus does have the potential to cause severe illness and death, especially in the very young, very old, or those who have underlying health conditions.”
The CDC recommends that essentially everyone over 6 months of age should receive the flu vaccine. Now is a good time to be vaccinated, before the holiday season begins. It takes up to two weeks after vaccination for the body to achieve full benefit against the flu virus.
The flu is a respiratory illness caused by viruses. The flu comes on suddenly and symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, and body aches. Illness typically lasts two to seven days, and often puts healthy people in bed for days. The ‘stomach bug’ which causes diarrhea and vomiting is not caused by the influenza virus, but usually by norovirus; thus, the flu vaccine will not protect you against this illness.
To learn more about influenza in Iowa, visit http://idph.iowa.gov/influenza. Contact your health care provider or local health department to find out where the vaccine is available in your community or use the Flu Vaccine Finder at https://vaccinefinder.org.